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Atlanta Falcons Top Free Agent Targets: Part 2- Defensive Line

January 19th, 2014 at 1:52 PM
By Graham Waldrop

After covering a couple of players the Falcons could target in free agency to plug the holes of the offensive line, here are a couple of players we think could plug some holes on the defensive line.

GREG HARDY, DE, 25 YEARS OLD

Greg Hardy had one of the best years of any defensive end in the NFL, and Falcons fans should know him very well after he punished us all year long.

Hardy has been with the Panthers his entire career and finished the season with 15 sacks, five tackles for loss and 39 solo tackles.  The 15 sacks and five tackles for loss were career highs for the young man out of Ole Miss.

Hardy's sack numbers have increased every season.  He recorded three in his first season, four in his second season and then exploded in 2012 with 11 sacks.  This year's 15 sacks is showing that Hardy is getting better and better at getting to the quarterback as the years go on.  At only age 25, the sky is the limit for this player.  While he would be a pricey free agent, he would add instant impact to a Falcons defense that only recorded 32 sacks this year.  That means that Hardy, by himself, recorded just under half the amount of sacks that the Falcons recorded this year.

Now Hardy has caused some controversy in his interaction with the Falcons before.  He's gotten into it with both Matty Ice's (Ryan and Bryant) over the last couple of seasons, so there's no telling how that would impact his chances with the Falcons even pursuing Hardy or if Hardy would be interested in coming to Atlanta.

Prior history aside, Hardy would be a tremendous help to a defensive line that has always struggled to get to the quarterback.

LINVAL JOSEPH, DT, 25 YEARS OLD

Joseph is a defensive tackle who put up a very solid year for Tom Coughlin's underperforming Giants.  He recorded three sacks and a career high six tackles for loss last season along with 59 solo tackles.  The physical nose tackle could add some much needed physicality to the middle of the Falcons' defensive line that could be losing its leader.

With the Falcons' Jonathan Babineaux set to hit free agency this season, and it being unknown as to whether or not he will return, Joseph could be an optimal replacement.  He's younger and has more of a ceiling than Babineaux, who, despite a good season last year, may have reached his peak.  It would be even better if the Falcons could get Babineaux back and bring in Joseph.  For years, Babineaux hasn't had anyone who could really help him up the middle and had to man the interior of the Falcons 4-3 base defense pretty much by himself.

Regardless, the addition of Joseph could definitely help this D-line.

These are our two suggestions.  Who would you like the Falcons to go after this offseason?

Tags: Atlanta, Atlanta Falcons, Football, Greg Hardy, Jonathan Babineaux, NFL

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